For those who came of age during the Cold War, the idea that Christian Westerners would be invited as special guests inside the Kremlin seems unthinkable. But this was the scene at the International Forum on Large Families and the Future of Humanity, held in Moscow September 10-11.
More than 1,000 pro-life, pro-family participants traveled from around the world to attend the Forum, which was headlined by high-profile Russian Ministers and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill I.
The event received enthusiastic support from the Russian government, which allowed the conference to be held within the Kremlin State Palace and the iconic Cathedral of Christ the Savior. President Vladimir Putin even sent a greeting to conference participants, lamenting Russia’s “large-scale demographic crisis” and the global “erosion of moral values.”
Konstantin Malofeev, chairman of the St. Basil the Great Foundation, said during the high-level panel that Russia sees herself as a bulwark, defending traditional Christianity against secular humanism imported from the West.
“We all are witnessing now an unprecedented triumph of Orthodoxy, which has not been since antiquity,” said Malofeev. “And we wish the same for Europe. In recent years, Russia passed laws prohibiting advertising of abortion and the promotion of homosexuality among minors.
“It’s not like our Western friends who impose the culture of death,” he added. “Some Western counterparts have entered diplomatic practice to send, on behalf of the State Department for embassies, directives to support non-traditional family units throughout the world. It seems to me, the Russian Foreign Ministry could adequately respond by sending back a directive to support traditional family units and family values.”
Russia has considered herself a Christian nation for over a thousand years, making the duration of her 70 year experiment with atheistic communism pale in comparison. Over the last 25 years, Russia has revived, restored or newly built more than 25,000 churches and 800 monasteries.
Naturally, the conference was not without controversy. Vladimir and Natalya Yakunin, who co-sponsored the event through their leadership of the St. Andrew the First-Called Foundation, are known to be within President Putin’s inner circle and are currently under economic sanctions from the United States and the European Union.
Parliamentarian and Forum Committee Member Elena Mizulina is also facing U.S. sanctions related to Ukraine. She is known to be a champion for laws protecting family and restricting abortion in the Russian Duma, leading some to believe that the sanctions imposed upon her by the Obama administration are politically motivated.
Indeed, at the behest of LGBT advocacy groups like the Human Rights Campaign, pro-family leaders from the World Conference of Families, Don Feder and Larry Jacobs, are now being investigated by the Department of State to determine whether their participation at the forum in their personal capacities violated American sanctions.
While the participants held diverse views about hot-button topics like the Ukraine crisis, they united in solidarity to advocate for the natural family and the sanctity of life. At the close of the conference, the organizing committee ratified a declaration which affirms that “the preservation of mankind is based on a system of family and kindred ties that are formed through the bonds of marriage between a male and a female and the children born to them.”
Josh Craddock writes from New York.